Part 4. Practical Artist/Paint Research


Fiona Rae

Human Scale Work. I like this element of an inevitable physical response to the work when it is big – it side steps the intellect, engaging a more instinctive response to the work which is again something I need to consider with my own choices. Need to constantly reflect on scale when working.

always be conscious with my work, to be aware and focussed on all of it, not just the section I am working on.

What can you do to make it alive, vital, relevant? Something for me to consider further, my intention, my reasons for making the work, what I want to express.

scale, surface, colour, detail, resolution

Use of signs, symbols, imagery. ‘In amongst a passage of expressive meaningful brushwork I might place something very inappropriate, almost ludicrous or absurd to see what happens. Often take things from the outside world and introduce them into the paintings…..can I pull off a serious, expressive paining that includes stuff that we see in our world every day?’ This particularly resonates with me – need to explore further what this means in terms of my own work. Practice by creating my own series of experiments inspired by Rae’s work (particularly incorporating the ‘cute’ symbols).


This is a small A4 piece of work I created in acrylic and gouache in response to Rae’s work. What did I learn?

  • It is very difficult to create cohesive layers if it is unplanned. Decisions need to be made about what forms each layer, even if it is the decision to incorporate chance or the random.  My attempts were almost too structured but also vague at the same time.  The most successful part of this experiment was the movement within the brush strokes in the gouache layer over the top. It that has picked up tints of what lies beneath it and created something unexpected and interesting.
  • that colour is very much unique to each person.  Rae’s colour palette was a big struggle for me – perhaps because internally I don’t understand where the choices come from. ‘Trees and flowers await your love’ 2007  was my initial inspiration point both for colour and brushwork with this and on reflection I can see I haven’t understood the processes that Rae undergoes to create her work.  I, therefore, felt confused and at odds with myself trying to emulate her style.
  • that bold, solid brush marks are hard to create, particularly ones that then create drips. How is it possible to get the paint to drip without thinning it and affecting the potency of the colour?


Joan Mitchell

To experiment making a range of abstract pieces of work inspired by music. This would then be used as a layer for further work to be painted on top. The layers need to be complete in themselves – paintings that have reached a conclusion and have had time to sit before beginning further work on them with a different intention/aim.

This is my favourite way of working as it gives me utter freedom without the loss of focus or intent.  Responding with painting to music that I feel connected to is an important part of discovering who I am as an artist.


This was an A1 painting in acrylic made in response to one song repeatedly played.  I used the painting ‘Untitled’ 1969 as a basis for my colour choices.

What did I learn?

  • That this kind of painting is only one layer in what I need to create for my own work.  I need to bring in some kind of solidity or form to hang this freedom onto – see prep for assignment 4 for further ideas on this.
  • Again, that I felt unable to create sweeping densely coloured brush stokes that then dripped.  This is something key to my practice so need to investigate this.
  • that using this particular colour theme has created cohesion within the piece, however, more depth and layers are needed.  Oil paint would have been a far better choice of medium, however, acrylic was used for expediency.
  • that in my eagerness to respond to the music with paint, I neglected to remember the negative space on the page.  There is not enough balance in this piece and there certainly needs to have been more blank, white left.
  • to keep my mark making varied and interesting, always keeping each brushstroke as a choice rather than it simply happening without decision.

Iain Andrews

Layers. To allow time to build up different styles within a piece. To give space for the painting to evolve. To consider purpose of each layer – within that, to consider colour, tone, brush marks, quality of paint application, thick/thin etc. To also consider the meaning of each layer – for there to be a purpose to everything that is painted (or not).

iainandrewsinspired iainspireddetail


  • I enjoyed using the thicker paint (see detail) and creating more gestural forms within the work.  I need to take this further though, there is still to much reference to detail in this piece.
  • Interestingly I again found the colour palette I had chosen almost impossible to stick to.  I used ‘The Eat Me’  as my starting point, however, the strong blues and browns have ended up being painted over into a much more neutral palette.  I, therefore, question whether I need to begin now with experimenting with my own choices of colour and to explore what suits the energy and mood that drives my work.

Karl Bielik

I have been following Bielik on Instagram having seen his work in the John Moore’s Painting Prize selection.  I am really inspired by his approach to creating work – building up layers over time particularly holds interest for me given how difficult I find it to leave a painting and return to it.


As with my experiential research into Joan Mitchell I feel as though this gradual building of layers in a responsive way is a crucial element of what I need to use in my own practice.  I used the painting ‘Glider’ 2015 as my starting point for colour. Going back to the image I can see how my printer has distorted the colours and I have, therefore, used a much more muted version for this research.

What did I learn:-

  • that during the process of creating a painting in layers I hit a point when the layers start to become meaningless.  I am fully engaged but in some way I know that a different approach is then needed.  There needs to be a juxtaposition of style and form, a tension that I am unable to create painting with one intention.
  • I used varnish on some areas to see if it would bring a different kind of depth – I don’t think it has worked.  It almost looks as though i’ve just coloured in the shapes with the varnish.  My varnish experiments help me to see how hard it is to use it as a ‘painting’ medium unless there is a strong purpose for it.
  • that painting in layers in this way (and letting each layer dry) is very effective in keeping a luminescent quality to the work.  Need to remember to be meticulous with cleaning fluids to ensure they don’t affect the quality of the paint colour.



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